From the monthly archives: "February 2014"

Rollerblade_444692_1510740Here’s my latest Bad Cop Blotter, which I didn’t even realize was up until two days ago. I have had a post-Students for Liberty Conference virus. It’s either from all that freedom, or from being in Mordor for a whole weekend. Nevertheless, read:

On October 11, 2011, Florida Highway Patrol trooper Donna Jane Watts saw someone driving a Miami police cruiser way over the speed limit, so she attempted to stop him. The driver reportedly took seven minutes to pull over the cop car, making Watts even more antsy over whether she was dealing with someone who was taking a cruiser for a joyride at 120 miles per hour. It turned out that the driver was a uniformed, on-duty officer named Fausto Lopez, who apologized to Watts and said he was late for an off-duty job. Watts arrested him anyway. He was breaking the law.

Lopez was later fired, but according to the Associated Press, Watts was subjected to a campaign of harassment, prank calls, and anonymous threats from people she suspects were fellow officers. Police vehicles and unmarked cars idled near her house. Freaking out, she even did a public records request to confirm that, yes, the police were accessing information from her driver’s license—88 officers from 25 agencies had looked her up more than 200 times in one three-month period. She’s now suing the cops and departments involved for improperly accessing her info, though many of the cops who looked at her license have been reprimanded and the agencies involved say such searches are only illegal if the information gets sold. No matter what happens in court, this is a disturbing picture of the “thin blue line” of cops who don’t look kindly on an officer who goes after another officer.

The rest here

lucy-steigerwald-previewClearly cool human and excellent radio host Guillermo Jimenez had me on his podcast last weekend. In his words:

On this edition of Traces of Reality Radio: Guillermo is joined by VICE columnist, Lucy Steigerwald. We discuss Lucy’s latest articles, including “LEGALIZE HEROIN!” and “Politicians Finally Realize They Can Stop Pretending to Hate Weed.

Mormons, Ted Cruz fanboys, and “conservatives” who are anti gun prohibition but pro drug prohibition: you’re all on notice. Listener discretion, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The listener discretion is for profanity! He started it! But I indulged as well. I haven’t listened yet, but I remember it being a ranty, pleasant conversation. Check it out. 

I have done Jimenez’s radio show twice before. The first, from May, has us discussing the MOVE bombing, among other topics. The second, from August, is an all round libertarian issues chat, including a good tangent into anti-authoritarian songs that mentions Joe’s excellent list. 

It shouldn’t be that tough for newspapers to figure out this newfangled Digital Age-thing before it’s too late — except that it’s journalists doing the figuring.

Here, for free, from a ex-newspaper guy who did everything he could for 35 years to make papers livelier, more interesting and more ideologically diverse, is how to turn your average daily newspaper around and turn it back into a relevant news-making, news-breaking force for the public good:

Take 20 young reporters, give them iPhones, a laptop, a decent camera, a geographic beat — and tell them to get out of the office and never come back unless there’s a going-away party they have to attend.

All day long the reporters are supposed to cruise their territories, looking for real news but also blogging about whatever they see that’s interesting, funny, important, etc. They should interview people on the street or wherever. They should take photos or video of car wrecks or drug dealers or other photo-ops.

The reporters’ content should go straight to the newspaper’s digital news desk where it is put up on the (geographically organized) web site as fast and as lightly edited as possible. Mistakes will be made; big deal; mistakes will be fixed in three seconds.

If a plane crashes in her territory, the reporter is right there with instant photos and quick tweets and blogs and content sent to the digital news desk — which can now break the video and news faster and better than TV or radio can; no longer is the newspaper last with the news, but first (again). Other reporters and their iPhones flock to the plane crash scene ASAP, blogging, tweeting, reporting their butts off.

The web site editors build the story on the fly (sorry, plane crash victims) from reporters’ reports/photos/video, plus citizen/crowd input. The web site eventually hands off everything it has to the print people, who use the web content and other content (perspective, analysis, whatever) to put the big (or little) story together for the next day’s newspaper.

Web site first, paper second. Every day. All scoops appear on the web first.

On Day 2, the paper’s deeper content is stashed/archived on the web site ASAP for the rest of eternity, where it can — unlike the last 100 years of newspapers’ content — be found easily by all.

Monetize this process; tout the news-breaking, bottoms-up, in-your-community coverage of the digital side and take full advantage of the digital age. Make a real news partnership with a TV station.

Put the deep, smart, ideologically diverse analysis and commentary in the paper first, then move it to the web; do investigative stuff in the paper first, then to the web.

Use the web to promote and feed the paper and the paper to promote and feed the web.

Trust the reporters.

Trust the readers.

Make apps about movies, clubs, restaurants, sports, etc., that a kid might want to be caught dead downloading.

Change.

It’s already too late.

Photo via Flickr user Karen Neoh

Photo via Flickr user Karen Neoh

Here at The Stag Blog we love Philip Seymour Hoffman and mourn his passing. I also believe that legalized heroin would save lives, especially those of the less privileged addicts or sometime-users of the drug. The idea that anyone has to weigh the fear of arrest and prison with the fear of them or a friend overdosing is a horrifying one. Those laws need to be changed now, not a few more decades after the David Brookses of the world accept that their marijuana hypocrisy might be excessive.

The below VICE piece doesn’t even cover the (also important) point that some people can do heroin or other hard drugs and not become addicted (check out: Jacob Sullum’s phenomenal Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use) and that all of this should be a personal choice, and morally speaking it is one.

When people talk about ending the drug war, they usually mean “no one should go to prison for marijuana.” There’s no doubt the public has shifted its collective opinion on pot—currently, a majority of Americans believe it should be as legal, regulated, and taxed as tobacco and alcohol—and naturally, politicians are beginning to sense the way the wind is blowing. But elected officials, like people at large, are less gung-ho about legalizing the harder drugs.

First, let’s clarify that no one is recommending that we all follow Philip Seymour Hoffman’sexample and start shooting up. Heroin is awful. Don’t do heroin. It fucks up your life. But as the case of the fentanyl-cut heroin that has killed 22 people in Pittsburgh illustrates, the only thing worse than legal heroin is illegal heroin.

The rest here